Parents get blamed for a lot of troubles in their kids’ lives, but, can a parent really be responsible for drunk driving?
Police in central Florida have witnessed a sharp increase in DUIs. In 2013, Orange County had 3,031 DUI arrests – the most of any county in Florida. Orange County alone has experienced a 4% increase due to college students with nighttime DUI arrests up 20%. While various Florida counties are dealing with this trend, the University of Central Florida finds it especially troubling and Police Chief Richard Beary would like to see parents take more responsibility for their children who drive while intoxicated.
Parents should educate their children before they reach the university level where alcohol and freedom can easily translate into bad decisions. It isn’t as difficult as you may think:
- Start discussing drunk driving with your children in middle school and take every reported drunk driving incident as an opportunity to discuss the seriousness of the matter.
- Once a teenager is learning to drive, make “driving sober” part of the lesson like wearing a seat belt and not texting while driving.
- Have a contract that lays out expectations while he or she is driving.
- Model the appropriate behavior you expect from your child – you are the best example of a safe, sober driver.
By starting as early as middle school, college students can understand how devastating and serious the issue is, and could help decrease drunk driving incidents once they leave the nest.
In Florida and the U.S., drunk driving accidents are increasing among young people. Increased law enforcement helps cut down on the number of drunk drivers on the road, especially with sobriety checkpoints and “no refusal” laws in place. Penalties that include mandatory ignition interlock or car breathalyzer installations for drunk driving convictions work both as deterrents for first-time offenders, and to keep convicted offenders from driving while intoxicated. Perhaps, though, the safest way to cut down on DUIs across the country is for us to all to openly discuss the problem as early as possible, and help our kids stay safe and sober when driving… for life.